Jeremy Bonderman has been a pleasant, nonroster surprise for the Mariners this spring. Will it be enough to land a spot in the starting rotation? Probably not. The team can ask him to go to Class AAA and build his arm up a bit more consistently over the next month, then take another look come May.
The question is: will Bonderman want to go to AAA? If not, this could be his final baseball outing.
He faces a stacked Royals lineup, so it should be interesting. Keep an eye on his pitch count. The Mariners want to see him hit at least 90.
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2:46 p.m.: Jeremy Bonderman entered the sixth with a pitch count of 77, having been slotted to go at least 90. So, the Mariners wanted to see what he had left and the anser was: not much. The defining at-bat of this game was the very last one, when he had Brett Hayes down 0-2 and just could not put him away. By that point, Bonderman’s 2-seam fastball was being clocked at 86-87 mph and that’s just several clicks short of where he needs it. Hayes prolonged the at-bat to eight pitches before lining a hard single to left.
That was it as Bonderman’s pitch count was at 89 and pushing his limit. The Mariners could tell he was gassed and pulled him.
Seattle trails 7-4 after six. Bonderman gives up seven runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts and one walk. More importantly, he showed he does not have the needed endurance or strength to begin the year in the rotation. He needs more seasoning in Class AAA. We’ll see if he wants to go there.
2:35 p.m.: Jeremy Bonderman just hit the proverbial wall face-first in a 30-pitch fifth inning, giving up six runs on seven hits — three of them doubles and one a triple, as the Mariners now trail 7-4. Michael Morse probably could have caught the last of the doubles — a two-run shot to left center by Jeff Francouer — but the ball was still well-hit and pretty deep and still required a good play to be made. Bonderman was usually around 87-88 mph on his fastballs that inning, though he dialed it up to 90 mph a couple of times. The balls being struck were well-hit for the most part and only one of the doubles was of the softer variety. At one point, Bonderman was struck by a Billy Butler comebacker, but recovered to throw him out. There was a slight injury delay, but Bonderman stayed in the game and the Royals proceeded to collect three consecutive hits off him.
Like I wrote in the morning blog, Bonderman was already not going to make the team because the Mariners want to see him consistently go deeper into some games to build up arm strength. When you haven’t done that enough — Bonderman had only done it in a minor league contest — this kind of stuff can happen out of the blue. His future wasn’t decided today. But it will be determined by how much better he gets from here.
He’ll get the chance to show it starting right now, as the Mariners have sent him back out to start the sixth inning.
1:55 p.m.: The Mariners just scored three runs in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. Kelly Shoppach single to center, followe by a nice Brendan Ryan bunt single to the right of pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon (a great name if we’ve heard one) to put two on an then Franklin Gutierrez double over the center fieler’s head to bring the runners home. Gutierrez was on third soon after when Kyle Seager delivered a sacrifice fly to left center.
So far, Jeremy Bonderman had had good velocity — hitting 93 mph on one second inning two-seamer to Jeff Francouer. The Royals scored a run in the third on a double by Miguel Tejada that drifted until it struck the top of the left field wall. Tejada was bunted to third and then Brett Hayes singled to bring him home. Bonderman got out of the inning on a 5-4-3 DP grounder by Alcides Escobar.
Bonderman began the game by notching six consecutive outs, four of them on grounders and one on a called strikeout.